Nov 09 2012

Cologne Philharmonie

Published by at 12:47 pm under PSO 2012 European Tour

Pittsburgh Symphony at the Philharmonie, Cologne

Pittsburgh Symphony at the Philharmonie, Cologne

In Köln (Cologne), we heard three encores for the first time. The Philharmonie is underground, built in 1986 as part of the Ludwig Museum complex just behind the immense Cologne Cathedral. Built starting in the 11th century, the cathedral still stands dark and commanding on the skyline. I enjoyed a look through the Ludwig’s vast holdings of contemporary art. There’s a big show of the recent work of David Hockney now on view, but the permanent collection – rivaled only by museums in Barcelona and Paris – is a treat. The Pittsburgh Symphony’s final encore, Khachaturian’s Galop from Masquerade, gave Principal Clarinet Michael Rusinek time to interpolate a little of Dvorak’s New World Symphony, the “Goin’ Home” tune that brought a chuckle in the audience, the local anthem Viva Colonia, and even a phrase from Hail to the Chief as a nod to the close of Presidential election season. After the concert, there was a glass of beer for all at the Philharmonie.

Kölsch for everyone

Kölsch for everyone

A backstage cafeteria and bar serves tall, thin glasses of Kölsch, a style of beer made in Cologne and nowhere else. It makes for a very festive atmosphere. Backstage were Gabriela Schiller and Anna Frankenberg, who help promote the Pittsburgh Symphony in Europe, and Helge and Erika Wehmeier, who brought friends from Bayer Corporation.

Principal English Horn Harold Smoliar and I admired the gigantic Nespresso machine backstage with lots of options for how to brew your coffee.

I loved the shopping at Galeria Kaufhof with Tannenbaums throughout the store, and a sumptuous food court featuring more Christmas Stollen than I’ve ever seen in one place.

I loved the Merzenich bakery with its jelly-filled doughnuts called Berliners, and Weckmann or gingerbread men with a white pipe. Cheese bread or Käsebrotchen and many other delights were tempting.

Ich bin ein Berliner

Ich bin ein Berliner

Joe Bock and Rui-Tong Wang

Joe Bock and Rui-Tong Wang

I’m just back from visiting with Joe Bock and violinist Rui-Tang Wang and their 2 year-old son Reagan, who was baptized at a 4:00 pm ceremony in St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna. Manfred Honeck turned up unexpectedly as one of the guests. This is the cathedral where Mozart was married and his 5th and 6th children were baptized, as well as where he was first buried. The priest, Father Timothy McDonald, has spent 30 years in Europe. Young Reagan took it in stride, with the exception of the application of Holy Water which was a small bath.

Father McDonald feels that there have been many misguided stories about Mozart’s death, such as that he was buried in a pauper’s grave. There were several levels of service for memorials and Mozart was memorialized in accordance with his station in life at the time of his death.